Support Your Local Sheriff

That was a movie from the 60’s with James Garner.  He still brings a smile to my face.  I loved his movies all the way to the “Notebook.”

My writing today is about support.  Now I have belonged to many clubs and organizations over the years, and the one thing they all had in common was politics, and ego.  I hate that!  I’m talking from the large breed organizations to the small local clubs.  You just can’t get away from it.  What starts out to be a good idea, with great expectations, turns out to be a “he said, she said” it’s all about me deal.  Hate it, hate it, hate it.    BUT sometimes it’s necessary to pull together to stand up to the big guns.

I have lived with my horses in many towns, counties, and states.  It’s always the same. People want to live in the country and then when they get there they want what makes it the country gone.

In Staten Island, New York we had 4,000 horses at one time.  You could ride your horse absolutely anywhere.  Tie up to a tree or telephone pole and go in and have lunch, pick up stuff at the store, or go to the Post Office. Technically barns weren’t supposed to be there within the”City Limits”, but many people had them in their backyards.  No one used to enforce the laws, it was country living in its finist.  Small towns and communities were everywhere.  We just rode down streets and waved to the neighbors as we went.  It’s just the way it always was.  Then “The Bridge” (Verrizano) was built.  It made a beautiful backdrop in the movie “Saturday Night Fever”, but it was the end of Staten Island.  Instead of riding the ferry to Staten Island from Brooklyn or New York City you could drive.  It opened up a whole new suburbia right there, a short distance from N.Y.C. Totally destroyed the bucolic beauty of the Island.  Inch by inch horses were pushed out. Everyone, who had horses, moved to New Jersey.  Just a handful of horses remain today.

Those of us, which were many, who cared back then, decided we had to do something to save some areas for riding.  The trails through the woods we once rode were being threatened.  We were told that horses were eroding the land and bothering the flora and fauna.  Those trails had been used for 100’s of years and everything was still flourishing.  The horses did absolutely no damage.  If anything the manure helped the flora and fauna.  It’s all natural.  So the horse people banded together with other groups to save the area.  When all was said and done, the other groups got access and the horse people were restricted to riding around the outside of the “park.”  Seriously?!  We were there first.  Those others didn’t even know that land existed.

I watched it happen in Staten Island, and then again in N.J.  Once again we banded together to fight to keep horses in the area.  Some townships loved the idea and actually required people to leave easements for horse trails, others turned their heads away and didn’t even acknowledge there was a problem or people who cared.

So now I’m here in Florida watching It happen all over again.  This is getting very old.  All the ranches that we Fox Hunted on are being sold off to developers.  Soon there will be housing developments, along with their own schools and shopping centers, where cattle once grazed.  Fox, Bobcats and many other local wildlife will be pushed from their homes.  Concrete and street lights will be the norm.  Gone will be the Cypress banks, flowing streams, pine trees and Sandhill Cranes.  Six lanes of traffic will replace dirt paths that were once used by man and beast for centuries.

The sad thing is that most people don’t care.  As bad as the clubs and organizations may be, that is the only hope of holding back the onslaught of progress.  “United We Stand, Divided We Fall” must remain the battle cry.  Together we have a voice, alone we are ignored.  It’s the old “The Squeaky Wheel Get’s The Grease.”

So as much as you may want to stay out of the politics of each organization, you have to get involved.  You don’t have to become sucked into the politics, but you do have to be part of the number who wants to keep horses in your particular area.  Find a local group who is attached to a state and national chapter, and join.  You need to financially support them with your membership, but you don’t have to play the ego game.

Stand up and be counted for the right to have horses in your area.  To keep the trails you have enjoyed over the years.  Or someday we might be like the Ringling Bros. Circus, just a faded memory in some old persons mind.

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